In what seemed to be a sure-fire victory for the Democrats, Republican candidate Donald Trump made history by emerging as the new president of the United States, to assume office on January 20, 2017. The focus has now shifted on his third wife, former model Melania Trump, as people want to know more about the new U.S. First Lady. She is only the second foreign-born woman after England-born Louisa Adams, the wife of President John Quincy Adams, to become the first lady.
The ex-model, who used to be known as Melania Knauss, was born on April 26, 1970 in Novo Mesto, Slovenia. Her birthplace is located in southeastern Slovenia, which was formerly a part of Yugoslavia.
Her father, Viktor Knavs, was a government-owned car and motorcycle dealership manager, while her mother, Amalija Ulčnik, was a children's clothing patternmaker. She has a sister named Ines and an older half-brother, whom she has never seen.
She started her modeling career at age 16 and eventually dropped out of freshman college at the University of Ljubljana. She started fashion modeling in Slovenia before signing with a Milan-based modeling agency when she was 18.
Entry to The U.S.
By age 26, she made New York City her home base, with the help of Paolo Zampolli, an Italian businessman who negotiated her contract and visa. Eventually, Melania Knauss appeared on the covers of various international editions of fashion magazines, such as Harper's Bazaar, Vogue, GQ, Vanity Fair, Allure, Avenue, New York Magazine, In Style Weddings, Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue (2000) and Ocean Drive.
According to Michael Wildes, her lawyer, Ms. Knauss first arrived in the U.S. using a business visitor visa in August 1996 before she was able to get an H-1B visa in October of the same year. At that time, visitors from Slovenia were only granted a one-year visa. Ms. Knauss had to return to her native country four more times to enable her to renew her U.S. work permit.
She later applied as a model of extraordinary ability to qualify for a green card. She became a permanent resident in 2001.
Meeting Donald Trump
Donald Trump and Melania Knauss first met in 1998 at a New York fashion party. Donald Trump was still married but separated at that time from second wife, Maria Maples. After a long courtship, they finally tied the knot in 2005. The lavish affair was attended by popular celebrities and personalities, including Bill and Hillary Clinton. In 2006, Melania Trump became a U.S. citizen. She and president-elect Donald Trump have one son, Barron William. It is said that he is already fluent in Slovenian, his mother's first language.
Expectations From The New U.S. First Lady
When Mr. Trump and Melania Knauss met, he was a business mogul with a host of business ventures. Eleven years after, he's now going to hold the difficult position of managing the entire United States. Plenty has been said about president-elect Donald Trump, most especially that he is a hot-tempered man. Melania Trump did not escape the acid tongue of members of the media, particularly when parts of her speech during the Republican National Convention were found to be direct quotes from Mrs. Michelle Obama's speech during the Democratic National Convention in 2008.
While it is expected that many will be against her, there are still some analysts that remain in the middle, looking at the pros and cons of a foreign-born former model, who's set to become one of the most influential women in the U.S. and many parts of the world.
Slovenian-American Melania K. Trump speaks 5 languages – her first language, Slovenian as well as Serbian, French, German and English. Some say she also speaks Italian. Her being a multilingual may come in handy, according to some analysts.
From the viewpoint of historians studying the role of the first lady, such as Jean Wahl Harris of the University of Scranton, she believes that Melania Trump will be like Jacqueline Kennedy, a very traditional social hostess. She thinks that it is a role wherein Mrs. Trump will be very comfortable. She'll be the public face of the Trump administration.
Ms. Harris added that since the time of Jackie Kennedy, the expectations from the first lady of the land have increased. Aside from seeing her as a good mother and wife, Americans expect the President's wife to be a celebrity, someone seen as very supportive of her husband and patronizing projects that will benefit the nation. She is expected to be very actively involved in these projects.
An expert on first ladies and a professor of journalism at Boston University, Elizabeth Mehren, sees Mrs. Trump rising from the unbending strictures of being a first lady. She had already signified that one of the causes she's going to espouse is cyber bullying. As a mother of a 10-year old child, it's a noble cause. However, it is also something that can be problematic, as her husband has been known to send mean tweets very early in the morning.
Rice University presidential historian, Douglas Brinkley concurs that Mrs. Trump will be in the mold of Jacqueline Kennedy, who will not be interfering with her husband's policy-making job publicly. She'll have a keen eye on fashion, being a former fashion model, which can help boost the fashion industry in the U.S.
He added that Ms. Trump can be a softening influence to her husband's well publicized hot-headedness. He does not see her as someone who will be doing something pioneering, but will concentrate on being a good mother and going full time in raising Barron well.
Another professor of journalism, Mark Feldstein from the University of Maryland, looks at Mrs. Trump differently. He believes that since the president-elect is a mold-breaker, he expects his wife to be the same.
Howard Bragman, who is a veteran Hollywood insider and Fifteen Minutes Public Relations firm founder, wants to give Mrs. Trump a chance. He thinks that she will receive plenty of support even from those who did not vote for her husband. She is seen as someone who knows exactly what and who Mr. Trump is.
Many people are expected to be judgmental of the new U.S. President, but the general consensus is that more people will be willing to give Melania Trump the chance to be the First Lady they expect her to be.